An Important Anniversary: The Story of My Journey

 

I don't normally write much about my personal life on here, but today is an important anniversary of a day that I would argue changed my life. People always ask my what I do or how I make it as a blogger, and this little anecdote will help shed light on how I got to where I am today.

One year ago, on August 25th 2015, I got an email from Adams Media asking if I would be interested in authoring a spiralizer cookbook. At the time, I was working at a PR agency in LA where I had been working for two years since I had graduated college at NYU. PR wasn't my dream job, but I worked with really great people and was learning a ton of important information about the marketing industry that ended up being extremely useful in what I do today.

But, at this time, I was exhausted and drained. At NYU, I majored in journalism and psychology, and I knew I wanted to become a writer full time. Writing was something I have always loved since I was a child, and it has always been the career I wanted. While working at my PR job, I had picked up some freelance journalism jobs on the side, knowing that eventually I wanted to transition to writing full time, but this meant on top of working on my blog and working a 9-to-5, I was spending every free moment I had working to get all this extra work done. 

I was waking up early in the morning to make multiple meals before work, I would draft up posts on my lunch breaks, and I would come home from work in the evening and continue working, writing my freelance articles. Weekends were the same. I stopped going out with my friends because I needed to wake up early the next day to work.

At first, it was okay, because I knew I was working toward a goal, and I am definitely not one to shy away from hard work. But I didn't see a light at the end of the tunnel. I had no idea when I would be able take the leap into full time freelance writing. I didn't know when I was going to be ready, but I knew it had to be soon. 

I don't know if it was a coincidence, or if it was because I put that thought into the world, but exactly one year ago from today, I woke up to an email from a publisher asking me to write a book.

You would think I would throw my hands in the air and jump for joy at this news — that would be the natural reaction, right? Nope. Instead, it was the opposite. I was suddenly in a full-blown panic. How would I swing this? I can't write a book! This is too much work! I'm not good enough. This is so stressful! I can't leave my job! These were all the thoughts going through my head. 

You never really realize how you react to these types of opportunities until they actually happen. I had no idea I would respond to such a wonderful email in such a negative way. But I now understand that sometimes big events like this can be scary. That fear causes all your self-doubt to come flooding in. The reality is overwhelming.

Thankfully, I had people around me who reminded me that this was only a positive, that this had been one of my life dreams: to publish a book. They reminded me that I was extremely capable of doing something of this caliber, and I just had to take it step by step.

So I did. Despite all my irrational stress, I figured out a way to make it work. I accepted the offer and signed a publishing deal. I gave my notice to my boss, who was great enough to give me her full support. I went to the websites I worked for and arranged to take on more articles. 

And then I just did it. I worked my ass off for months writing the book, cooking 3-4 meals everyday and writing at night. It was extremely toiling — I don't think I have worked so hard in my entire life. But nothing has ever been more worth it. 

I started doing the things I love, working on my own schedule, writing health and nutrition articles and blogging — literally living my dream. My life suddenly contained more balance. Don't get me wrong, I still work long days and work extra hard running my own business. But ever since I took that leap, everything else fell into place. My physical and mental health improved, my social life improved, even my dating life improved. 

I recognize that it's extremely rare and lucky for someone to be able to be living their dream job and working their own schedule at the ripe age of 25. And I still have many goals that I want to reach beyond what I'm doing now. But what I wanted to touch on is all the stuff that came before I got here: the long hours, the grueling mornings and weekends, the crippling fear that almost stopped me from jumping on an amazing opportunity.

Everyone has their own different timeline, but I think we can all relate to the desire to find our passion and to make money from the doing the things we love. Did this happen overnight? No. I had been blogging for years before this happened. Do I make a fortune from my blog? Absolutely not. I have so much room to grow, but I wanted to share my story because it is not only something personal about me, but I think it's something many young adults can relate to, or are at least curious about. I get asked all the time how I do what I do. Nothing comes easy, but hard work and passion somehow end up going hand in hand. 

Today is a special day to me because 2016 really has been the best year of my life. I am so extremely thankful for where I am and for having so many amazing people in my life who have been nothing but supportive, and this includes everyone who reads my blog, likes my Instagram posts, who buys my book, or even just sends a recipe to a friend. I'm just here to spread knowledge about healthy living, and I am so happy I get to do exactly that. 

Vegan and Gluten-Free Fig and Strawberry Crumble

 

Dessert doesn't have to be filled with unhealthy flours and loaded with refined sugar. Instead, you can use substitutes to make a delicious but more natural dessert. This crumble is vegan and gluten-free and uses seasonal summer fruits for its sweet flavor. 

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

For filling:

  • 4 cups chopped strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 small lemon
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Grade B maple syrup

For crumble:

  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (if you don't have coconut sugar, you can use maple syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 6 1/2 figs

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

2. Chop up strawberries and put them in a medium bowl. Add coconut flour, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and syrup, and mix well. Spoon mixture into an 8 inch baking pan. 

3. Combine coconut flour, oats, coconut oil, coconut sugar, and maple syrup in a bowl. Mix until crumbly. Spoon over strawberry mixture.

4. Slice figs in half, and place on top of crumble. Bake for 25-30 minutes until top is crispy and strawberries are bubbling. Let cool for about 15 minutes, then serve. 

Spicy Tuna Quinoa Bowl with Sesame Kale

 

I've been trying to incorporate more fish into my diet, but every time I think fish, I just want to eat sushi. But I realized a more cost-effective way to get my omega-3s is with canned tuna — made in a way that makes me feel like I'm eating sushi! You only need a few ingredients for this bowl, and it's definitely much less expensive — and likely more healthy — than going to your favorite sushi restaurant. 

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup kale leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 5 oz canned tuna
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha
  • 1 stalk green onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 small avocado, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds

1. Place quinoa in a bowl. Heat up sesame oil in a small pan on medium-low heat. Add kale and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft. Place on top of quinoa.

2. In a separate small bowl, combine tuna, Sriracha, and green onion. Add to quinoa bowl.

3. Top with diced avocado and sesame seeds. 

Roasted Cauliflower and Golden Beet Bowl With Chickpeas, Feta & Harissa

 

I love roasted cauliflower and beets, as they both get so sweet and tender. Mix that with the crunchiness of the crispy chickpeas, the saltiness of the feta, and the savoriness of the harissa, and you've got a bowl exploding with flavor as well as nutrients. 

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried orgenao
  • Dash of salt
  • 3 medium golden beets, peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 cups cauliflower florets (about 1/2 a small head)
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • Handful fresh flat leaf parsley

Ingredients for Harissa (will have leftover)

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread chickpeas on a small, aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over chickpeas, and top with pepper, oregano, and salt.

2. On a separate, large, aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, add beets and cauliflower. Drizzle with remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil until evenly coated. Put both baking sheets in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Chickpeas should be golden and crispy, beets should be soft, and cauliflower should be turning golden at crisp at the tops.

3. While vegetables and chickpeas are roasting, prepare harissa by combining tomato paste, garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika, caraway, lemon juice, and olive oil until a smooth paste forms. Make sure garlic is finely chopped so it mixes in evenly.

4. When vegetables and chickpeas are done, combine in a bowl. Top with feta cheese and parsley, and drizzle with about 2-3 tablespoons of harissa, or as desired. Serve warm or chill. 

Smashed Chickpea and Avocado Sandwich

 

I love using chickpeas as my source of protein, but I'm so used to adding them to salads or bowls that I forget they can be mashed up to be used as filling for sandwiches. This is a vegan-friendly sandwich that is flavorful, filling, and takes only 10 minutes to make!

Ingredients (serves 2/makes 2 sandwiches)

  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • Handful cilantro, chopped
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 slices whole grain bread
  • 1/4 cup arugula

1. In a medium bowl, combine chickpeas and avocado. Mash with a fork until chunky. Add in cilantro, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice, and mix thoroughly. 

2. Spread chickpea mixture onto a slice of bread. Top with arugula, and cover with remaining piece of bread. Serve immediately or refrigerate.